The White House asked former President Bill Clinton to talk to Rep. Joe Sestak about the possibility of obtaining a senior position in the Obama administration if he would drop out of the Democratic primary race against establishment-backed Sen. Arlen Specter, the Obama administration said in a report released Friday morning.
The White House then concludes that no laws were broken. This doesn't seem right. The law states that an official whether DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY offers something of value in order to drop out of a race is a crime. So, the fact that this was Clinton and not the White House is irrelevant. The fact that this was preliminary or informal is also irrelevant. All that matters is whether or not there was a direct quid pro quo. Was Sestak offered a job if he dropped out of the race? If that's what happened, that's a crime.
So, all that matters is exactly what Clinton said. That will be difficult to prove. For instance, what if the offer was done strictly in a hypothetical manner, would that be a crime? It also is peculiar to say the least that a non paid advisory position was offered. This would entice no one. Was it really all that was offered? If there was nothing untoward, why did the White House use an intermediary?
What is without question is that this looks awful. The best defense for this White House is the claim that this is done all the time. That may be true but in fact, Obama promised to rise above all of this. Even if no laws were violated, this goes against every bit of the soaring rhetoric that Obama made in the campaign. There's nothing inspiring or transparent about any of this. At best, there was no direct quid pro quo but just an implied one. That wouldn't be illegal, just scummy. That said, this first broke in February and now it's almost June and we still don't know much. No one will explain exactly what was said and why this isn't illegal. The reality is that this is politics as usual. Obama had no accomplishments coming into the presidency. He won largely on his soaring rhetoric, and this episode is another example that the soaring rhetoric is NOT backed up by action.